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Media Elites and Undecided Voters

Richard B. Weldon Jr.

October 8, 2004

The following paragraph is an excerpt from Washingtonpost.com Media Notes, on October 5, 2004.

"But Bush showed himself still to be the master of stretching about a dozen words of geopolitical vocabulary to fill out 90 minutes. The president's responses were tailor-made for people with short attention spans, which probably describes most undecideds. Let's face it, if they still haven't made up their minds at this late date, they really haven't been paying attention."

In Tuesday’s Washington Post Media Notes section, I ran across this little gem. The entire article was an analysis of who won last week's presidential debate. The section I included above was written to support an assertion that the President had won the debate.

The logic cited in the online column is that Bush did such a good job stretching his limited geopolitical vocabulary into 90 minutes that he should be declared the winner of the debate.

Okay! I can accept the fact that the writer, no doubt another of the Kerry campaign's big time mass media flacks, choose to mock the President's speech patterns and mannerisms. That's just what they do. What I find alarming is that the writer also feels compelled to denigrate thousands, maybe millions, of registered voters who have yet to make a final decision in the upcoming presidential race.

From the pages of The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, to the airwaves of CBS, NBC, and ABC, to the glossy pages of Time and Newsweek, Americans are inundated with the view that a reporter's education and experience trumps the opinions, thoughts, and feelings of "common" people.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and the liberal pundits, purveyors, and prognosticators just don't get it. My favorite complaint from progressives is the explosion in popularity of conservative talk radio. They actually think that folks who listen to Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, and Bill O'Reilly are so ignorant that they cannot comprehend the quality of observation found on National Public Radio.

A frequent rallying cry, begun by Al Gore in 2000, was that voters were "disenfranchised" by the actions of the Republican Party. I've learned to turn the deafest of ears to these claims.

Disenfranchisement is an excuse, and is used by those who are grasping to retain their hold on power as it is being rightly wrestled from their clutch.

To my way of thinking, there is no greater form of disenfranchisement than to allege that voters are stupid merely because they are searching for more information on the candidates.

What's wrong with a voter who waits until the debates are over, or until they research endorsements from groups that better reflect their personal interests? Heaven knows that most voters wouldn't be comfortable relying on the mass media to form any opinion.

Dan Rather fomented a lie. CBS allowed (some might say encouraged it) it to air, and most media outlets were happy to give the story headline coverage. Is it any wonder then why undecided voters would be rightly skeptical?

Maybe the folks who find something more suited to their tastes on talk radio or the Fox News Channel are simply tired of the bias and haughty high-handed lecturers featured by the mainstream media culture.

Lest anyone be so naïve as to believe that the recent CBS Memogate fiasco represents the first time that mass media has manipulated a story to make a point, I'd urge every discerning reader to pick up a copy of Bias by former CBS reporter Bernard Goldberg. He documents many examples, all very obvious manipulations of the truth to make a point.

So, my hope is that no committed liberal or progressive read this. I'd much rather you go on about your business, especially if that business is to demean undecided voters for taking as much time as they need to be comfortable in their choice for president.

For you truly undecided voters out there, use all of the tools at your disposal to determine who you truly believe to be the best qualified to lead this Nation during turbulent times. Take as much time as you need to do that. Just remember that those same media elites who dismiss your intellect on one hand are trying to influence your vote on the other!

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